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Published On: Fri, Nov 21st, 2014

How to overcome the challenges of living in Nigeria (I)

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I live in Africa, one of the most challenging places to live on the earth. I also live in Nigeria, another country worth studying, if you are interested in studying ironies, absurdities and paradoxes. It is OK, if you are uneducated because you will not be conscious of yourself and environment relative to the humanity and the world around you. This ignorance makes you immune to the pains of the inadequacies that daily bite you. The ignorant would interpret away his pains within the paradigm of religious fatalism, predestination and fate. So the ignorant African undergoes pains created around him by forces that are external and invisible to him and so he endures all with equanimity till he lives out his poor miserable life, that is usually often short, nasty and brutish, a life span that hardly, for the majority, exceeds beyond fifty years. If however, like me, you are enlightened and conscious of the world around you and you are not ready to resign to fate, your pains are double. You daily see absurdities yet you cannot do anything about them, you see that you live in a filthily rich country, yet 99.95% of its average citizens live in abject poverty, on less than $1:00 a day.

You see some of the absurdities exhibited in the example of Nigeria as a country being dubbed the most religious country on earth consisting of the happiest people yet its citizens, who are Christians would not hesitate to rob its churches and the premises of its valuables, the clergies to commit adultery with married women of the church, other members of the laity to get engaged in other serious crimes such as kidnappings for ransom money, operate baby factories that produce babies who are sold  out either to be eaten or killed for rituals so that they baby factories operators and the ritualists can  get rich very quickly. Some baby factories are operated by even qualified medical doctors and ‘devout’ Christians all in a quest to make huge and quick money. On the Muslims side, a faithful will not have a prick of his conscience to steal ordinary shoes from other faithful worshipers in the mosques.

The faithful would not hesitate to steal cheap pots for ablution, cups or wall clocks all property of God owned by the mosque for the use of other worshipers. Some of the items the faithful steal are so trivial that their monetary value is less than 10 us cents, i.e. 1/9 of a dollar or N20:00 Nigerian currencies. The faithful lady who finds it sacrilegious to hobnob with men when the sun is shining and so would not talk with them in day time to guard her modesty and chastity but ironically would however, once the sun set and it is night under the cover of darkness be eager to be with men and the more the men the better and the higher her social status in the family and the community. Once it is night she, faithful, can be called out of her home by any strange man without introduction, permission or supervision as commanded by the sacred books and she will gladly come out and listen to him and the most preferred places are dark corners, such as abandoned school premises, carpenters shade, mechanic workshop and such similar obscure dark corners of the alleys in clear contravention of Islamic injunctions on how faithful men should court a faithful lady.

Now if you think it is the poverty and you can excuse that petty larceny in churches and mosques, then what about the ruling elites who in their gang can steal, for example, as much as $20 billion dollars from the nations revenue and even have the audacity to chase after the Central Bank Governor, for the offence of informing his employer, the president of the nation about the theft. And the stealing continues. That $20 billion is neither the first nor the last. It is business as usual. The thieves remained employed in their offices with full assurances of job security while the security man guarding the treasury is chased out of the security post for blowing the whistle, paradoxically by the same man who in the first instance appointed him to watch over the treasury. So which absurdity, which irony which paradox can be greater than all these contradictions.

It is axiomatic all over the world that the highly skilled individuals are appreciated, given jobs requiring their expertise and motivated with rewards for using their hard earned skills to contribute their quota to national development in their respective areas of expertise and job accordingly but here the uncertificated swindler/liars /thugs/unprincipled kleptomaniacs are the ones often rewarded with the highest official posts and remuneration.  Another absurdity is that this is a country that has refineries, that is the world’s 7th largest producer of crude oil but imports refined petroleum products. The country produces roots and tubers of all types from cassava to yams to coco yams and so on, yet the country imports starch. This is a country in which the ruling elites were taught in the universities that slavery, colonialism and imperialism from which the continent had suffered at the hands of Euro-American powers where not altruistic institutions but mechanisms for exploiting and under developing the continent. Yes, that is true.

Yet these same elites after independence destroy almost all of the infrastructures set up by the same exploiting and under developing colonialists in Nigeria, the destruction also included the few infrastructures and services, the first and second generations post-independence nationalistic governments added, but after that it was a free fall official arson, as if we have been visited in Nigeria by the combined destructive forces of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and the H bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It became a scorched earth system against all the land mark and indices of progress and modern civilization that helpfully in the past employed and fed and integrated millions of Nigerians and other African citizens and contributed immensely to the gross national product-GNP-and gross domestic product per capita, GDP per capita of the citizens.

Khaleed Maiwada Abdulsalam wrote in from Kano.

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